The next time you begin to download that super cool new app to help you “get organized” ask yourself what isn’t working within your existing system that’s inspired you to spend time downloading and learning a new app.
It might be easier to tweak what you already use instead of spending time learning something new. Maybe you’re downloading the new app to avoid doing what needs to be done or you simply want the rush of something fun and new. I get it, I really do because those feelings are way more fun and satisfying (short-term) I think you’ll agree though that taking the upper hand on something that you’ve been avoiding is more satisfying (long-term) than any app could ever be!
Maintaining accountability can be a challenging task if you don’t have an effective follow-up system in place.
Imagine that you ask assign a team member a task and they are to get back to you in one week. If YOU don’t have a follow-up mechanism in place the likely hood of you forgetting what you’ve asked them to do is fairly high, unless you have a good memory. If THEY don’t have a system in place to allocate the time to complete the task and then send you the information you’ve requested by the time specified then you have a team member who is stressing out to meet a deadline ….or because they’ve missed a deadline.
Systems make the cogs run smoothly
And even worse (yes it can get worse), is when you forget and they forget – In the future they won’t feel a strong desire to be accountable to you and your trust begins to decrease. The lack of systems can quite literally interfere with your overall productivity and employee satisfaction.
With a system in place – let’s call it a ‘delegation process’ for you and ‘calendar and task management management’ for them – you can both trust each other!
If parts of this sound familiar to your work flow then it’s a perfect time to sit down and have a conversation with your team member(s) about implementing executive skills into your daily workflow: delegating tasks and tracking them plus calendar and time management.
We use calendars so we know what we need to show up for but where do you keep track of all the tasks….. by tasks I mean the tiny action items that require time to execute but don’t necessarily get scheduled into the calendar?
A task can be a call you need to make tomorrow or in one month’s time. Tasks can be the supplies you need to pick up for the office, a course you need to register for or the new toothbrush you need from the drug store.
The rule of thumb is to keep all similar tasks together and then complete them together. If you have 5 follow-up phone calls to make and each will take approximately 10 minutes then you will need to schedule one hour into your calendar to make those calls.
If you have three errands that need to be done – dry cleaners, grocers and drug store then you’ll want to look at your calendar to see when it’s convenient to do those errands. While your reviewing your calendar may notice that you’ll be driving by the dry
Sample Task List
cleaners on Wednesday – now you just need to schedule it in and then stop at the dry cleaners on Wednesday.
A calendar for all of our appointments and a list of ALL tasks that need to be done are essential procedures so that we can free up our minds and be confident that everything that needs to get done is accounted for.
Have you ever felt like you just spent 8 hours on email?
What a painful way to feel about your day – unless you’re absolutely elated that you just cleared ten thousand emails from your inbox. One of the biggest challenges with emails is that they sometimes contain links. You click on a link and voilà, you’re on the Internet and before you know it you’re scrolling through LinkedIn profiles and you’ve completely lost track of time.
There are ways to actually win at email but you’ll only be able to benchmark your success if you track how much time you truly spend on email in the first place. After you have tracked your time for 2-3 days then consider adopting any of the strategies below.
Here are 10 steps to help improve your overall efficiency with email:
Define how much time you will allocate to email each day and schedule those blocks of time into your calendar.
Only open your email during those blocks of time.
Identify which emails are tasks that will take more than two minutes to execute and add them to your task list.
Identify which emails are appointments-enter them into your calendar and then file or delete the email.
Identify which emails are projects and schedule the next steps or assign the tasks
Save emails that you need to in appropriate folders – remember your inbox is NOT a folder
Delete emails that you no longer need, especially if there is a thread of the same email conversation
Challenge yourself by setting a timer to keep you focused, even challenged, to stay on track (use a PDA, an egg timer or an online tool like www.online-stopwatch.com).
If you continue to struggle with the time you spend in your inbox consider using http://emailga.me to help you, and even motivate you, to stay on track.
If you get stuck figuring out what to do with your email go back to the rule of thumb:
if it’s an appointment put it in your calendar
if it’s a task put it on your To-Do list
if it’s information you need to keep put it in a folder and
if it’s someone’s contact information you need enter it into your database.
I Googled “Time Management” and got over 1 billion hits in less than 26 seconds so, don’t worry you’re not alone!
The problem isn’t that you have a challenge but rather that you can’t talk about it at work (for many obvious reasons) or with your family or loved one’s because they probably seem used to your behavior or make jokes about it and I would guess that you probably feel like no one really understands you.
I bet you’re not even sure what the root cause is behind your own time challenges. If you could define the root cause and actually implement some strategic actions, that suit your lifestyle and your personality style, you’d be much happier, more productive and you’d even pat yourself on the back some days for a job well done.
But sadly, many people don’t realize that there are people to help with time challenges – at kAos Group we do this along with other professionals that can be found in the Google search. But, until you are ready to give someone a call here are some great time management links that may provide affirmations or strategies for you to adopt:
Time management doesn’t work
David Pogue is the technology columnist for the New York Times. He presented a Ted Talk and opened with a line that goes something like “there’s no course to teach you how to use your computer” – isn’t that the truth!!
Here are 5 great productivity tips from his talk or you can watch the video below.
1.Move down on web pages
Press the space bar then hit the shift + space to scroll up
2.Increase text size
CTRL + +++(larger) or —(smaller) to change text size while on a website page
3.Cell phones –
Press the space bar twice to put in periods
4.Google made easy
As a dictionary – type in ‘define’ and then the word
Press ‘B” to black out the slide on the screen
Press ‘W’ to white out the slide on the screen
Tasks – Tasks are all the little things that need to be done that roll around in our heads and possibly surface to remind us while we are in the shower or, worse yet, sleeping.
When the vast amount of ‘things to do’ overwhelms us we sit and cathartically write it all down feel somewhat satisfied that we’ve captured all those thoughts on paper. We may actually take action on some of the items but in about 2 weeks it starts to build up again.
This is the pendulum theory for task management. We go from one extreme (no list) to another (everything on a huge list) when the best solution is middle ground – having a system to track all the task that we trust and can rely on so that we can release our brain from remembering the minutia to allowing our brain to think, grow and rest!